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Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm & f4.1).
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
Eyepiece: Plossl 55mm (f2 x38).
In spring 2019 I created a Sky Safari observing list of 214 highest brightness galaxies in the night sky above.
I have observed 134 of the 214 (the others have not been well placed over my garden when I have been outside).
In my first pass through these 134 galaxies, they were graded 0-3 (where 3 means "clear spiral arms" and 0 means "nothing to see here!")
I have now completed a second pass through the grade 2 and grade 3 galaxies. This has resulted in some movement between bands based on my now greater experience and having a better idea of what I expect to see.
My latest graded lists contain 38 grade 3 galaxies and 30 grade 2 galaxies (when combined this gives a list of the best galaxies to view when using military night vision technology combined with a low power eyepiece (using the TeleVue PVS-14 adapter).
[Note that lower power eyepieces give the best spiral arm results as they “increase the effective focal ratio” of the telescope/night vision system which really helps increase the detail seen at the eyepiece.]
As we are still in galaxy season 2020, now seemed a good time to re-publish my findings so others have the opportunity to observe some of these fantastic galaxies before they become “unavailable” for another 10 months…
Grade 3 galaxies (the best of the best).
M51 M61 M64 M65 M66 M81 M90 M91 M94 M95 M96 M99 M100 M101 M106 M109 NGC891 NGC2403 NGC2903 NGC3184 NGC3628 NGC3631 NGC3726 NGC3893 NGC3953 NGC4051 NGC4216 NGC4274 NGC4449 NGC4559 NGC4565 NGC4618 NGC4725 NGC5248 NGC5371 NGC5746 NGC5907 NGC6946
Grade 2 galaxies (good but the arms are not quite there…)
M82 M88 M98 M104 NGC2537 NGC2768 NGC3294 NGC3344 NGC3373 NGC3596 NGC3646 NGC3675 NGC3718 NGC3729 NGC3813 NGC3938 NGC4013 NGC4214 NGC4293 NGC4389 NGC4490 NGC4517 NGC4535 NGC4625 NGC4762 NGC5005 NGC5364 NGC5383 NGC5775 NGC6015 Hopefully someone will find this useful information, next time they plan a galaxy observing session...
Note that my dobsonian uses an Astrodevices Nexus unit which I control using Sky Safari. Here are my exported observing lists (which you can import into your Sky Safari app should you wish to do so?)
Grade 3 Galaxies.skylist
Grade 2 Galaxies.skylist
1. email them to your phone/ipad,
2. read the email on your mobile device and after clicking on the attachment, you should be offered the chance to “send to Sky Safari” by your email app…
3.Sky Safari will open and give a message “Observing List Created”.
Celestron 9.25 at f6.3, SW EQ6R pro, Canon 550 D modded
The galaxy group Hickson 44 in Leo. This is based on 29 x 240 s, plus bias and flats.
Hickson 44 in Leo:
There are some other galaxies near by, some of which are names in this overlay from Astrometry.net:
Overlay from Astrometry, naming the other objects:
The main ones are NGC 3190, NGC 3185, NGC 3187 and NGC 3193. NGC 3190 has a well defined dust lane. NGC 3187 is a barred spiral galaxy with two arms. NGC 3193 is an elliptical galaxy.
The light captured by my camera last night left these galaxies just after the extinction event killed the dinosaurs on Earth.
From APOD: Galaxies, like stars, frequently form groups. A group of galaxies is a system containing more than two galaxies but less than the tens or hundreds typically found in a cluster of galaxies. A most notable example is the Local Group of Galaxies, which houses over 30 galaxies including our Milky Way, Andromeda, and the Magellanic Clouds. Pictured above is nearby compact group Hickson 44. This group is located about 60 million light-years away toward the constellation of Leo. Also known as the NGC 3190 Group, Hickson 44 contains several bright spiral galaxies and one bright elliptical galaxy on the upper right. The bright source on the upper left is a foreground star. Many galaxies in Hickson 44 and other compact groups are either slowly merging or gravitationally pulling each other apart.
This image is based on 19 x 300 s , plus flats and bias. It shows a LOT of galaxies, in a grouping called Abell 1367. In this image you are looking at part of one of the biggest structures in the Universe, the Great Wall.
The Leo Cluster (Abell 1367) is a galaxy cluster about 330 million light-years distant (z = 0.022) in the constellation Leo, with at least 70 major galaxies. The galaxy known as NGC 3842 is the brightest member of this cluster. Along with the Coma Cluster, it is one of the two major clusters comprising the Coma Supercluster, which in turn is part of the CfA2 Great Wall, which is hundreds of millions light years long and is one of the largest known structures in the universe.
The overlay from Astrometry gives some of the galaxies visible in the image.
So, although I had some issues with my auto guiding (which I found out afterwards) I did manage to get 9x180s exposures and 5 darks of Andromeda and give both stacking (using DSS) and processing (using GIMP).
My first attempted DSO....
I am pretty sure that people could get far more information out of the TIFF file from the stack.
Hopefully I will get another clear night soon. I am in a heavily light polluted area so I do have a clip in filter on my DSLR which I think took a lot away.
More practise needed!
Having had to move to an apartment where I could not use my CPC 1100, I decided that I have to see what I could do with my NexStar SLT 102 (alt-az achromatic 102mm f6.47 refractor). Setting up on my narrow balcony was challenging and the altitude bearing was so loose that it almost moved from the weight of the Canon 700D. I could not see M31 in the estimated 3.5 magnitude sky so I did a two star alignment and used the live-view to focus on a bright star. I then took a 15 second exposure after slewing to M31 which allowed me to see that I had it in the field of view. After a few more 15 second exposures and playing with the motion controls I managed to get it centered. The resulting picture is from 39 subs of 30 seconds at ISO 1600, 9 flats. The images were stacked and stretched with Siril and then I played with the curves on Gimp, cropped and scaled. Not too unhappy.